Kuno Meyer.

Magazine of New England history (Volume 1) online

. (page 3 of 22)
Online LibraryKuno MeyerMagazine of New England history (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of nature, spent a large amount of time and money in trying
to find in his ancestral land, genealogical records that would
justify his claiming Roger Williams as a fellow-countryman.
Reuben A. Guild, LL.D., the respected and efficient libra-
rian of Brown University, did well when he sought to re-
move a cause of confusion and error by showing that two

♦This monument was erected by Daniel L. Jones, who was an original member of the
Roger Williams Monument Association. The Brooklyn monument bears the following
inscription :



Daniel L. Jones
F. R.

A. M.

Roger Williams

Founder of Rhode Island

Born in Wales


Died in Rhode Island



college graduates, named Roger Williams, arrived in the
Massachusetts Bay Colony within a few months of each
other, and that the record of the one who arrived first had
been taken for the record of the Roger Williams of Provi-
dence, who arrived later. The paper referred to above is en-
titled, "Roger Williams, Freeman of Massachusetts," and
may be found in the proceedings of the American Antiqua-
rian Society, Oct. 21, 1887. Having settled this point to his
satisfaction, Mr. Guild pushed liis inquiries into fields where
lie had, in the opinion of the writer, no firm footing. Laying
aside the tradition or conjecture that Roger Williams was
born in Wales, he set forth in a carefully prepared paper, con-
siderations that led him to believe that the champion of relig-
ious liberty was born in Cornwall, and was the son of William
Williams of Rosaworth}^ in tlie southern part of Cornwall.

While further developments in this direction were awaited,
Henry F. Waters, A. M., the distinguished genealogist of
Salem, whose researches biought to light the family and
early life of John Harvard, the founder of Harvard College,
and also the lineage of Washington, the Father of our Coun-
try, discovered in the city of London unlooked-for letters and
records that point to that city as the early home, if not the
birthplace, and to James Williams of that city as the father
of the great champion of religious liberty. These newly
discovered papers have been printed in the New England
Historical and Genealogical Register. They are a kind of
historic-genealogical material that requires no argument to
be understood and appreciated. They speak for themselves,
better than any words of ours.

The fact that Roger Williams uniformly spoke of himself
as an Englishman, has never been denied or satisfactorily
explained by those who claim that he was either a Welsli-
man or a Cornishman. He showed none of the provincial-
isms, idioms, or pet^uliarities that arc orduuxrily noticeable in
persons of Welsh or Cornish origin. If lie had come from
such an out-of-the-way region as Cornwall, which is the ex-
treme southern point (Land's End) of England, we should


expect to find some reference to the fact in his writings, es-
pecially in connection with visits to his native land. On the
contrary, he simply spoke of himself as an Englishman — as
an Englishman "to the manor born" — and his uniform con-
duct and utterances to this effect are in strict accord with
his character as a man above all pretence, concealment or

A genealogist of unquestioned abiUty and good judgment,
after reading Mr. Water's pa^^ers to which we refer, has
given the following nine reasons for believing that Roger
Wilhams of Providence was a son of James Williams of
London :

1st. — Mr. Roger Williams took shorthand notes in Lon-
don when a youth — Roger, son of James, resided in London
when a youth.

2d. — Mr. Roger was beyond the seas in 1(534 ; so was Roger,
son of James.

8d. — Mr. Roger had a wife in 1634 ; so had Roger, son of

4th. — Mr. Roger had a daughter in 1634 ; so had Roger,
son of James.

5th. — Mr. Roger had a brother who was a Turkey mer-
chant ; so had Roger, son of James.

6th. — Mr. Roger had a mother living about 1629 ; so had
Roger, son of James.

7th. — Mr. Roger expected, on the death of his mother, to
receive from 20 marks to 20 pounds per annum. Roger, son
of James, received from his mother 10 pounds per annum.

8th. — Mr. Roger had an own brother Robert ; so had Roger,
son of James.

9th. — Mr. Roger is said to have been related to the Angell
family. Roger, son of James, had relatives of that name.

There is no evidence that these facts are true of Roger of
Cornwall or of Rosfer of Wales.

In conclusion, the writer is of the opinion that while a dis-
pute may still exist as to which of seven different cities is


entitle<l to tlie lionor of Laving been the birthplace of Homer,
there is no occasion for further controversy as to which of
the three sections of Great Britain named above, was the
early home of Roger Williams. Wales and Cornwall must,
I think, yield the palm of honor to London. A combination
of facts and circumstances seems to prove beyond reasonable
question, that James Williams of London was the father of
Roger Williams, the founder of the State of Rhode Island.
This question could be settled only by authentic records such
as Mr. Waters has produced. — Amos Perry in Providence

WoBURN, Mass. — Originally Woburn was called Charles-
town Village, and the first house was built in 1641, just a lit-
tle west of what is now Winchester, on the bank of the Aber-
jona River, and occupied by Edward Converse and his suc-
cessors for many years. Edward Johnson, one of the first
grantees, who was a prominent citizen of the Colon}'-, and
one of the commissioners who discovered Winnepesaukee,
the source of the Merrimack, tells in his rare and valuable
book, called "Wonder Working Providence of Zion's Saviour
in New England," of the organization of the present First
Congregational church in 1642, the ordination of Mr. Thomas
Carter as pastor, and the incorporation of the town the same
year. The act of the General Court constituting the place a
town is brief enough for a model ; it is as follows : — "Charles-
town Village is called Wooburne." It is supposed that the
name was derived from the abbey and park of Woburn, in
Bedfordshire. It originally included what are now the towns
of Winchester, formerly called South Woburn, Burlington,
originally called Shawsliine, and Wilmington, originally
known as Goshen Village.

Woburn has always been patriotic, and in "tlie old French
War" sent 150 of her 1600 population as soldiers. In the
Revolutionary struggle she was among the foremost. Two
days before the battle of Lexington, a company of fifty "min-
ute men" was formed, and at the alarm on the morning of
April 19, 1775, nearly all of them hastened to Lexington.


The Old Schoolhouse.

It stands by the wayside beneath an old tree,

Where I frolicked in childhood, light-hearted and free;

'Tis rude and time-worn, and the weather-stained door

Is carved with deep crosses, and marked o'er and o'er

With drawings and names by childish hands traced,—

Here, a part of a man, with the head quite effaced,

But with shape and proportion ne'er intended by nature,

The body a child's, but a giant in stature.

The half-open door to my view has disclosed

The benches and desks still standing in rows.

All duly notched, where some idle boy sat.

And worn smooth where his elbows rubbed this way and that-

The desk of the master, his inkstand and rule.

Where he set all the copies while he eyed the whole school.

On the desk close beside, where the ferule is laid.

Confiscated apples and tops are displayed;

Unchanged do they seem, and still standing there.

Are the pail and tin cup, and the master's arm chair ;

And still in the centre, all eaten with rust.

The old stove and it's pipe, thickly covered with dust.

On the three legs is resting, the fourth, broke and gone,

Is supplied by a brick for its weight to rest on ;

The papers and ashes lie scattered about.

The bits of old pens with the feathers notched out.

The marks on the wall, the ink on the floor, —

E'en the smoke on the ceiling's the same as of yore.

Hark ! the voice of the child, thro' the half-open door,

Who cons, in faint treble, his dull lesson o'er,

And the other, who yawns with his arms o'er his head.

And sighs as he wishes his lesson was said ;

Still deeper and longer, and more weary his sighs.

When he turns to the window his sleepy grey eyes,


And sees in the field tlie lambs skipping at play,

And envies their freedom this sweet summer day,

And believes in his heart that happy he'd be,

If he like the lambs, could only be free

To gambol and frolic, to stand or to run,

To lie down on the bank and bask in the sun ;

But oh ! this high bench, where his little short legs

Hang dangling, benumbed and lifeless as pegs,

While vainly he tries to reach with his toes

The too distant floor — Oh ; these are the woes

Which many a child in his school-hour knows.

But hark ! the stern voice of the master is heard

To call for his task, of which he knows not a word,

And his visions and dreams are dispelled all at once, —

The high seat is exchanged for the block of the dunce.

How his little heart swells, when he hears that to-day

For blockheads and dunces there must be no play ;

And when on the green a gay group is thronging

To join in their sports, how that young heart is longing !

Half-blinded by tears, he bends o'er his book.

Not daring t' encounter the master's stern look ;

Tho' his eye 's on the page, his thoughts are away

Where the boys on the green now frolic at play;

As sideways he peeps from his slyly-raised eye.

His hand seeks his pocket,— the marbles roll o'er,

And render his sorrows far worse than before ;

His knife and his jews-harp, and countless tow strings,

All a boy's precious store of juvenile things.

But add to his troubles, while striving to hide

The tears which will flow in spite of his pride.

The dull, lazy drone of an idle great fly

Now strikes on his ear so desolately,

'Tis in vain he endeavours his lesson to learn.

Some object distracts him, where'er he may turn.

Tho' the master has ruled every writing-book through.

Every page of them given a thorough review.

Every copy has set, and piled them away.

Still his task is unlearned, — not a word can he say.

As his hat on his head the master then placed,


The poor little idler he solemnly faced —

"And now, sir, your task !" — Oh, terrible sound!

How wildly the tone makes his young heart to bound !

And now bursts the grief he so long had suppressed,

In a torrent of tears which his pride had repressed —

'Twas bad enough quite, to be kept from his play.

And shut up alone in the school-house to stay.

But a dunce to be called, and a blockhead beside ! —

He, his mother's own darling, his father's own pride !

The cup of his sorrows was quite full before —

The view of the master has made it run o'er.

These griefs are not light, tho' they 're fleeting, 'tis true,

And I longed to rush in and entreat his rescue.

But sadden'd I turned me, and sauntered along.

Still hearing the shouts of the light-hearted throng,

And I sighed as I thought of the poor little one

Who sat on the dunce-block forsaken and lone,

And I fervently prayed that the future might bring

No sorrow more grievous his young heart to wring.

[The above is sent to us from Burlington, Vt. It was
first published in the Democratic Review in 1846. We re-
publish it because it gives a faithful picture of the old coun-
try schoolhouse, such as many of our readers attended in
their New England homes. — Ed.]

The Puritans placed great value on the services of the citi-
zen soldiers, and for every method for strengthening that arm
of defence, and for their correct discipline, they were prompt
to adopt stringent laws; the law of 1631 was as follows :
"It is ordered that every man who finds a musket, shall al-
ways have ready one })Ound of powder, twenty bullets, and
two fathoms match, under penalty of 10s., and that every
captain shall train his company every Saturday."

The winter of 1637-1638, was an extremely severe and
distressing season to the inhabitants of Boston. Snow to the
depth of nearly five feet,^remained on the ground from Nov.
4 till the following April.


A Sketch of the First Church in Salem, Massa-
chusetts, and its Ministers.

HE founclation of the First Church in Salem is iden-
tical with that of the town itself. The Massachusetts
Company, — having sent over Captain John Endicott
'^ and others, in 1628, to carry on the plantation at
Naumkeag — at a meeting of the company in London, April
8th, 1629, appointed Mr. Endicott to be the governor, and
Francis Higginson, Samuel Skelton, and Francis Bright,
whom they had engaged as ministers, to be members of his
Council. These, together with Ralph Smith, another minis-
ter, and a large number of people, arrived at Naumkeag on
the 29th of June, 1629. Mr. Smith soon Avent to Plymouth,
and Mr. Bright, pursuant to the company's instructions, re-
moved to Charlestown. Naumkeagr then received the name
of Salem, a Hebrew word meaning peace, Mr. Higginson
and others being "earnest to have it designated by a term sig-
nificant of their enjoying freedom from civil and ecclesiasti-
cal oppression." On the 20th of Julj^ members of the
church voted to choose Mr. Skelton to be pastor, and Mr.
Higginson to be teacher. It was an agreed principle with
the founders of this churcli, "that the authority of ordination
should not exist in the clergy, but should depend entirely
upon the free election of the members of the church." In-
stead of being titled Reverend, then and a considerable pe-
riod afterwards. Congregational ministers Avere called

We append a notice of the ministers of the church.

1. Rev. Francis Higginson _was the first pastor from


1629 to 1630, when he died. He was minister of one of the
parish churches in Leicester, but, becoming a non-conform-
ist, by his conscientious study of the scriptures, he was
ejected from his living, and forbidden to preach in Enghind.
"He lived," says Dr. Bentley, "to secure the foundation of his
church, to deserve the esteem of the colony, and to provide
himself a name among the worthies of New England." He
left a widow, Ann, and eight children.

2. Rev. Samuel Skelton (1629 to 1634) was educated
at Clare Hall, Cambridge, England, He survived Mr. Hig-
ginson about four years, during which he was sole pastor, ex-
cepting the two brief periods that Roger William« was his
assistant. He died August 2, 1634.

3. Rev. Roger Williams (1633 to 1636) was born in
Wales in 1599. He emigrated to this country a resolute non-
conformist, and arrived at Boston early in February, 1631 —
six months after the death of Francis Higginson. The Salem
church invited him to settle as teacher and colleague with
Mr. Skelton. He accepted their invitation, and became their
minister on the 12th of April following. But the governor
and magistrates interfered and made such opposition to his set-
tlement, that he was induced to leave Salem before the close
of the summer, and to become assistant to Mr. Ralph Smith
in the ministry at Plymouth. The opposition from the civil
authorities to his remaining in Salem, sprang from certain
opinions divulged by Mr. Williams soon after his arrival. He
thought that the ministers and peo^jle of Boston had con-
formed, to a sinful degree, with the English church, and ought
to declare their repentance ; that the royal patent could give
thorn no title to their lands without a purchase from the na-
tives ; that the civil power could not rightly punish breaches
of the Sabbath, nor in any way interfere with the rights of
conscience, — with other offensive opinions of less importance.
After laboring among the people of Plymouth about two
years with great acceptance and usefulness, he asked a dis-
misiion, in 1633, upon being invited by the church at Salem


to return to tliem as assistant to Mr. Skelton. He returned
accordingly, and was sole minister of the church till Novem-
ber, 1635. At this time the renewed opposition of the mag-
istrates, strengthened as it was by a treatise he had written
against the patent, had come to a crisis, and Roger Williams
was driven from Salem, and became an exile in the wilder-
ness. He died in Rhode Island in 1683 in the 84th year of
his age.

4. Rev. Hugh Peters (1636 to 1641) was educated at
Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He came to New
England, Oct. 6, 1635. For some time after his arrival he
divided his Sabbath labors between Boston and Salem. The
church at Salem invited him to settle with them, and he be-
came their pastor Dec. 21, 1636. He interested himself in
reforming the police of tlie town. He stimulated industry
and the spirit of improvement. A water-mill was erected, a
glass-house, salt-works, the planting of hemp was encour-
aged, and a regular market was established. Commerce re-
ceived most earnest attention. He formed the plan of the
fishery, of the coasting voyages, and of the foreign voyages.
Being frequently absent, Mr. John Fisk, a worthy man from
King's College, Cambridge, then residing in Salem, assisted
him in his pulpit. He was assisted also the first year by Mr.
George Burdet, who had supplied tlie pulpit after the de-
parture of Mr. Williams, and continued in Salem till 1687.
Mr. Peters was thought a proper person to return to England
and to represent the sense of the colony upon the laws of
excise and trade, and with his two colleagues, left the colony
on the 3d of August, 1641. In England he rose into high
favor with Cromwell and liis Parliament, who granted to
liim Archbishop Laud's library, with various rich donations
from noblemen's estates. The extreme degree to which the
hierarchy of England were embittered against Peters is in-
dicated in the following sentences quoted from a letter from
the Lord Bishop of Chichester to Isaac Walton, quoted by
Walton, in his "Life of Dr. John Donne" : "Hugh Peters,"


says his lordship, "a man of loose morals, having been ex-
pelled in the earlier part of his life from the university of
Cambridge, became afterward an itinerant preacher in Ne\T
England, Holland, and other countries, and was at length
appointed one of Oliver Cromwell's chaplains^ and a colonel
in the army. In the pulpit he not unfrequently acted the
part of a buffoon or merry- Andrew. He used to say that it
would never be well till 150— 'the three L's, the Lords, the
Levites, and the Lawyers,' — were put down." He fell a
mart3'-r to the cause he had so zealously esj)oused, on the 16th
of October, 1660. Mr. Upham's high appreciation of Hugh
Peters is well known. "Passion, prejudice, and interest,"
he says, in his 2d Century Lecture, "have all combined in
heaping calumny and reproach upon the character of Hugh
Peters. But their day has passed, and justice will finally be
done to the aspersed fame of the martyred and abused phi-

5. Rev. Edward Norris, (1640 to 1659) who had been
a clergyman in England, came to Salem in 1639, and joined
the church here in December of that year. Not long after
his arrival he was duly elected a colleague Avith Mr. Peters,
and ordained March 18, 1640. After the departure of Mr.
Peters, Mr. Norris was sole minister of the church about
eighteen years. He died Dec. 23, 1659, aged about 70.
"With Mr. Norris," says Dr. Bentle3% "we close the history
of the ministers of the first generation."

6. Rev. John Higginson (1660 to 1708) was ordained
pastor on the 29th of August, 1660, "with prayer and fast-
ing and imposition of hands." At a meeting of the church,
Sept. 10th, 1660, it was voted that every member of the
church, (except the poor,) bring into the deacons half a
c-own so often as might be necessary for the expense ; and
that on days of humiliation and thanksgiving a contribution
should be taken for the poor of the church. A public fast
was appointed for the following, among other purposes :
"To renew our covenant and to add that clause of taking


heed of the leaven of the Quakers." Mr. Charles Nicholet
was an assistant to Mr. Higghison in the ministry from
1672 to 1676, and made himself very pojjular, and thus
brought trouble upon Mr. Higginson, who could not agree
with the people in thinking him worthy to be settled as his
colleague. For the last twenty-five years of his life, he
found in Mr. Noyes an associate and friend, in whom he took
the most cordial satisfaction. Having been chaplain at Say-
brook for a number of years, Mr. Higginson was settled in
the ministry at Guilford as colleague with Mr. Henry Whit-
field, whose daughter he married. Thence he came to Sa-
lem. He was born at Claybrock, England, August 6, 1616.
He died in Salem, Dec. 9, 1708, in the 93d year of his age.

7. Rev. Nicholas Noyes, (1683 to 1717) before preach-
ing in Salem, had been tliirteen years in the ministry at Had-
dam. At a church meeting, first week of November, 1683,
"The church, having agreed, did by their vote choose and
call Mr. Noyes to the office of a teacher in this church." Mr.
Noyes sustained a high reputation for learning in theology
and general literature. But with other great and good men,
he was carried away by the witchcraft delusion. It should
be remembered, however, that he liad the magnanimity after-
wards to confess his error and make all the reparation in his
power. Mr. Noyes was never married. He died Dec. 18,
1717, a few weeks after his lamented colleague, at the age of

8. Kiev. George Curwin (1714 to 1717) was the son of
Hon. Jonathan Curwin. He was born in Salem, May 21,
1683, and graduated at Harvard College in 1701. Having
been for a number of years an assistant in the ministry with
Mr. Noyes, he was ordained as pastor and colleague on the
19th of May, 1714. He died Nov. 23, 1717. His ministry
was short, but in the highest degree meritorious. He mar-
ried, in 1711, Mehitable, daughter of Deliverance Parkman,
a distinguished merchant of Salem.

9. Rev. Samuel Fisk, (1718 to 1735) was the grandson


of John Fisk, alread}- mentioned as assistant to Hngli Peters,
and afterwards minister of Wenham, and was graduated at
Harvard College in 1708. He was ordained on the 8th of
October, 1718. "On this ordination day the assembl}^ met at
the new church, which was now almost perfectly finished.
This is the third house erected for the public worship of God
on the same spot of land on which the first church was built
in this town, and wliich was the first in the Province." Sim-
ultaneous with the settlement of Mr. Fisk was the formation
of the second church by members dismissed from the First
Chnrch to settle Rev. Robert Stanton in the east part of the
town. Dr. Bentley says of Mr. Fisk : — "He was a man of
real abilities ; but his high thoughts of church authority pre-
vented his usefulness, and he was dismissed from the First
Church in 1785, and accepted a new house provided by his
friends in the same street, westward on the north side of the
street.* He was succeeded in the old church by Mr. John

• 10. Rev. John Sparhawk (1736 to 1755) was chosen
on the 5th day of August, 1736, — "at a meeting of the bretli-
ren adhering to the ancient principles of the First Church in
Salem," as a "meet person to discharge the office of a Gospel
minister among them." His ordination took place on the
8th of the following December. He died April 30, 1755, in
the 42d year of his age. He left three sons, Nathaniel, John,
and Samuel, and four daughters — Priscilla, married to Hon.
Nathaniel Ropes ; Catharine, married to her cousin Nathaniel
Sparliawk ; Jane, married to John Aj^pleton ; Susanna, mar-
lied to Hon. George King, of Portsmoutli.

1 1. Rev. Tho.mas Barnard (1755 to 1776) was tlie son
of the Rev. John Barnard of Andover, and was born Aug. 16,

*Thi.s church was on Essex street, nearly opposite the present Barton

square church, which was destroyed in the great tire of 1774. In Felt's
annals it is stated: — 1774, Oct. 6, Rev. Dr. W'hitaker's meeting-house,
custom-house, eigliteen dwellings, fourteen stores, shops and barns, he-
sides sheds and other outhouses, were burned.

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryKuno MeyerMagazine of New England history (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 22)